Professors at speaking event

From Text, to Heart, to Pew: Southern Seminary Empowers Leaders to Retain and Apply Greek and Hebrew for Life

Travis Hearne — August 8, 2023

In this year’s SBTS Alumni & Friends Academy, Rob Plummer, Adam Howell, and several other professors offered guidance to over 200 ministry leaders trying to get back on track in their biblical language skills at the Greek & Hebrew for Life conference, July 28–29.

With the intense duties and demands of ministry, many leaders can slip in their comprehension and utilization of the biblical languages, says Rob Plummer, Professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Seminary. The purpose of the conference was to help pastors and other leaders retain what they previously learned in the classroom.

“We want to keep pastors and other Christians reading their Hebrew Old Testaments and Greek New Testaments for their entire lives,” Plummer said. “We had a variety of fascinating and practical breakout sessions—everything from how to read ancient papyri text to how to use Greek responsibly in weekly sermon preparation.”

Most of the conference attendees were alumni or current students at Southern Seminary and Boyce College. But many guests, including participants from Japan and New Zealand, connected with the conference through the Daily Dose of GreekDaily Dose of HebrewDaily Dose of Aramaic, and Daily Dose of Latin.

While many attendees were Southern Baptists, the conference included Presbyterians, Lutherans, Assembly of God, and Evangelical Free church representatives who all came to Southern to experience the world-class teaching and breakout sessions in the biblical languages.

For Plummer, Southern Seminary’s decision to continue including Greek and Hebrew in the curriculum and emphasizing the languages in day-to-day ministry represents Southern Seminary’s larger commitment to the final authority of Scripture. While other institutions are dropping Greek and Hebrew requirements, Plummer and Southern Seminary continue to stress the necessity and practicality of reading the Bible in its original languages beyond the classroom.

“If we value the Bible as the Word of God, then we will value the biblical languages,” Plummer said. “If it doesn’t matter what the Bible says, then studying the biblical languages is a waste of time. If, however, we continue to uphold the Scripture as our final authority in doctrine and ethics, we have a joyful obligation to study the biblical languages. Of course, some pastors around the world will never have the opportunity to study Greek and Hebrew, and the Lord can still use them mightily. But, if we have this opportunity, how can we pass it up?”

In a 2021 Faculty Address, Plummer presented a systematic case for why seminaries must include biblical languages for ministerial training.

“I confess that I find it embarrassing that evangelical seminaries are reducing biblical languages to an optional part of their MDiv curriculum,” Plummer said. “We’re sending soldiers into battle with muskets and powder horns instead of powerful and accurate weaponry.”

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